By Prakash Bhandari
Jaipur: The nuclear fuel complex, the second such facility in the country is expected to go onstream in 2022. Second after Hyderabad, it is being set up at Rawatbhata in Rajasthan at a cost of Rs 18,000 crore.
The Hyderabad-based Nuclear Fuel Complex (NFC) is the nodal agency for this project.
The new site is within the precincts of the Rajasthan Atomic Power Station (RAPS), at Rawatbhata, 65 km from the education city Kota. The heavy water plant and the site were chosen as nuclear experts found the predisposed site along river Chambal ideal for the fuel complex.
The fuel fabrication facility (FFF) and zirconium fabrication facility (ZFF), is a project of the NFC.
The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd that produces nuclear power has an expansion plan to add 10 units of 700 MW and Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs) in the coming decade for which a constant stream of nuclear fuel would be required.
The Hyderabad nuclear fuel facility was set up in 1971.
The proposed facility at Rawatbhata will supply nuclear fuel bundles and reactor core components. It is a unique facility where natural and enriched uranium fuel, zirconium alloy cladding and reactor core components are manufactured under one roof.
NFC symbolizes the strong emphasis on self-reliance in the Indian Nuclear Power Programme. As the number of nuclear plants in the country has increased in the past four decades, the need for setting up another NFC facility was felt.
As Rawatbhata is a big hub for nuclear power generation it was considered an ideal location, said an official of the NFC in Hyderabad.
The Rawatbhata complex will have a 500 tonne per year fabrication facility and it will also have a 65 tonne per year zircaloy plant.
In Rawatbhata, six nuclear power plants are currently generating 1180 mwe of power. Two of the new Indian-designed 700mwe series of reactors (RAPP-7 and RAPP-8) are under construction. The two reactors will cost an estimated $2.6 billion and are likely to be completed by 2016-17 and after this the total production from RAPS will touch 1400mwe.
At present, NFC supplies fuel to the 19 operational power plants run by the NPC, which has 20 plants with an installed capacity of 4,800mw.
A proposal is under consideration of the Union government to accord ‘in principle’ approval for the site at Mahi-Banswara recommended by the selection committee for locating the indigenous 700 MW PHWRs at Banswara, a backward tribal region in Rajasthan.